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My Take: Don’t blame college for young people leaving Christianity
The author says the politicization of Christianity is responsible for young people leaving church.
February 28th, 2012
12:39 PM ET

My Take: Don’t blame college for young people leaving Christianity

Editor's note: Tim King, the communications director at Sojourners, blogs at sojo.net. Follow him at @tmking.

By Tim King, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Christianity in America is in danger. As former Senator Rick Santorum recently pointed out, young people are leaving the church in droves.

In the mid-1980s, evangelical 20-somethings outnumbered those with no religious affiliation – the so-called “nones” – by a ratio of more than 2 to 1. By 2008, those proportions were almost flipped, with young “nones” outnumbering evangelicals by more than 1.5 to 1.

An entire generation, my generation, is leaving the church. What’s the cause? Santorum blames higher education, telling Glenn Beck last week that "62% of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it."

The “war on religion” has become a frequent bogeyman among Christian and political leaders. But the reason church leaders have failed to stem the tide of a generation heading for the exit door is that they keep looking for an outside enemy to blame when the biggest problems are inside the church.

The years young adults spend in college aren’t causing them to leave their faith; those college years are exposing the problems with the faith they grew up with.

The exodus has little to do with liberal college professors, which insurance plans should cover contraception, where mosques are being built, or whether or not the Ten Commandments are hanging in courtrooms, even if many religious leaders act as if these are the greatest Christian “battles” of our lifetime.

In doing so, they are actively pushing young people away from religion.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think young people are leaving the church in record numbers just because some Christians are Republicans. There are a lot of wonderful Christians who happen to be conservative and who are great witnesses for the faith. Many of them are in my family.

Rather, the exodus is about hypocrisy.

Last year, we saw Christian leaders raising the alarm about the encroachment of “radical Islamists.” They call for the restriction of Muslims religious liberties to practice their faith and build houses of worship. But this year, when it comes to contraception, the rallying cry is religious freedom.

Last week, Franklin Graham was asked whether or not he believed President Obama was a Christian. He gave a fair answer when he said it wasn’t his place to judge.

But when asked the same question about the faith of Santorum and Newt Gingrich, Graham’s standards changed. He answered that yes, he did think those men were Christian because of “political interests” and “spiritual interests.” Graham later backtracked, but the message was already out.

What did a lot of young people hear? To be a Christian you need to look like, talk like and vote like Franklin Graham… Oh, and something about sinners and grace.

Such political spectacles are driving a generation away from faith. It almost did for me, an evangelical Christian in my 20s who attends church on an almost weekly basis.

Most of my life I went to private Christian schools or was homeschooled. I had some wonderful examples of faith that inspired me. But as soon as I heard Christians on the radio or saw them on TV, I was ashamed to call myself a Christian.

The Jesus I read about in Scriptures taught love, acceptance, peace and concern for the poor, but the Christian leaders on TV and radio always seemed to be pro-rich, pro-white, pro-America and anti-gay.

By college I was getting ready to leave it all behind.

Thankfully, I had found meaning in work with the homeless and tutoring refugees. I heard Jim Wallis, for whom I now work, speak about God’s heart for the poor and oppressed. I sat in Scot McKnight’s North Park University classes in Chicago and learned about a Jesus who didn’t think like me, talk like me or live like me but who presented a radical challenge to be a disciple of this one they call Christ.

By 2004, I realized that the highest Christian calling in my life might not be to vote Republican. I still casted my ballot, but what was most significant to me that November was inviting 15 homeless men and women into my campus apartment to celebrate Thanksgiving with some other students and spend the night indoors.

I like politics. I think it’s important. Public policy matters because it affects people’s lives every day in ways we often don’t realize. But my primary concern for it comes because it affects the people Jesus called me to love and that the Bible tells me to be a voice for. This is why the use and abuse of religion during this election season is so troubling.

When Franklin Graham sets up double standards of faith for Republicans and Democrats, when Pat Robertson intones about a coming “secular atheist dictatorship,” when the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins goes off about the dangers of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and other “anti-family, anti-religious, anti-Christian policies,” when the great test for the next President of our country is who has “real” theology and who has “phony” theology, it might make for good sound bites.

But it’s bad faith.

Blaming colleges, like Santorum did, is a lot easier than reforming the church. Finding an enemy outside of your religious faith might keep some young people in line for a little while and is probably great for fundraising. Heck, it might even mobilize an important voting bloc and win a few elections.

But it’s hastening the decline of Christianity for an entire generation.

I have a simple request for our nation’s religious leaders who keep finding “enemies of the faith” at every turn without ever looking inward. For Christ’s sake, stop talking.

Spend some time in prayer and think about what you say before you say it. Ask yourself, is the political gain, the next spot on cable news or the notoriety I can achieve really worth the damage to the church?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tim King.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (1,729 Responses)
  1. Attila, The Hun

    People like Santorum are the cause of people leaving the church.

    February 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  2. Army MP

    I have my own battles internally with any religion. My relationship with god is actually in shambles right now because of my experiences in life up too this point. I'm a combat veteran of Iraqi Freedom and have a very cynical view on religion now. I've seen so much manipulation and many atrocious things done "In the name of God" that it's been hard for me to accept any specific church. The manipulation and atrocities I talk about aren't limited just to radical Islam but encompass the three major religions. (I call them The Big Three: Christianity, Islam and Judism) When the person at the podium commands so much authority over what you do, how you do it and how and what you think it raises red flags in my mind. I know I'm at the extreme end of the spectrum on my view and probably am not "right" in my view but I can not in good faith or conscience allow myself to stand on my day of judgement and say I did everything my pastor, priest, Imam, etc told me to do. I don't even try to give advise on religion to my friends, I try to get them to find their own path and not follow mine.

    February 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • momoya

      Seems sensible. I believed the bible and preached the word for almost half a century; I am now an atheist. (Closet atheist because people in my area judge you and don't treat you fairly if they know you don't believe). God seems invisible and unverifiable while we all use the same chemistry and math. If god has gone through this much trouble to seem invisible and not verify which god-belief is correct, I say we honor that choice and treat him as invisible and unverifiable.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      If there is a god and you have lived your life to help mankind (which you obviously did) I wouldn't waste too much time worrying about it. If the creator of this vast universe (in which our solar system, let alone our planet, country, self are nothing but dust in the wind) needs varying shades of pink monkeys to worship it then its not worth worshiping. If our existence is a gift then just don't waste it.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • lilome

      I experienced the same turmoil. Admitting there is no god was the turning point for me. But it is hard to get there. I no longer question the injustices and atrocities of the world (or the Bible), because I finally realized that the world in unjust and there is no magic sky fairy who can reach down and save us all.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Army MP

      @lilome
      I struggle with the "Does God exist" question several times a month. In all honesty it just doesn't feel right to me not to believe. I usually say "I wish I could honestly believe that God doesn't exist" but alas, it's part of who I am.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • momoya

      As an atheist myself, I do NOT usually recommend someone being an "atheist" or leaving their faith. It's an unnecessary, unpleasant affair to which there are better alternatives.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  3. Charlotte

    I think Christianity is to blame for young people leaving Christianity. As it becomes more and more boxed into the whackjob anti-evolutionism anti-woman neanderthal throwback mentality of what used to be the fringe cult type of sectors of Christianity, now they are perceived (at least by themselves) as being "mainstream" Christianity. Whatever happened to the intelligent, educated, ethical Christians? They seem to have disappeared at least from the media, who can only flaunt the Westboro, Santorum Gingrich types. No wonder people are leaving Christianity or at least trying to call themselves something else.

    February 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Christianity is growing in Communist China. Why is it on de decline in de West? The answer is de pious n religious. In China they can't flourish cos it is tough 2 b Xtian there. In America they hold de nation hostage thinking they r fighting 4 God. Xtians are not good at this! Ask the Crusaders!

      February 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Did you know the big bang theory was actually developed by a Catholic Priest? Christians are not anti-evolutionists but do see it in the context of a universe that has a creator. As far as being anti-women, that is nonsense.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Spa night.. many christians are completely anti-evo. >40% of americans dont believe in evolution (one of the highest rates in the developed world)

      February 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Dey terk errr jerrrrbbbbbssss

      Dey terk errr jerrrbbbbbssss!!!!

      February 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Nope

      ~~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Prayer doesnt do anything.. but trolling is annoying

      February 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • nope

      nope,

      February 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Nope

      "nope

      nope,"

      More desperation from the xtians with no facts to back themselves up. Too funny! LOL!

      February 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • nope

      nope .

      February 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things
      Proven."

      The experts disagree with you – it has been proven NOT to work. LMAO!

      February 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Nope

      "nope

      nope ."

      Still NO facts but more desperation. LMAO!!!! LOL! LOL!! LOL! LOL!! LOL! LOL!! LOL! LOL!! LOL! LOL!

      February 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • nope

      nope .

      February 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • LOL

      More desperation from the xtians with no facts to back themselves up. Too funny! LOL! LOL!

      February 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • SeilnoigileR

      Again, provide examples and not just coincidences where something you begged your cosmic vending machine for just happened to occur. I bet a lot of folks who died in tornados in Kansas were praying, but it didn't seem to work so well for them. Or those praying for rain in Texas during the drought. For every one seeming 'answer to prayer' there are probably 1,000s of times it did not work. Then again, you can always explain that away with one of the numerous loopholes in the Bible.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  5. myweightinwords

    @Russ,

    I have enjoyed our conversation. Thank you very much. However, my lunch hour is now over and I must get myself back to work. I look forward to engaging you further, and will check back later if I have the time.

    Natalie

    February 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • J.W

      Wow I am impressed with Russ. He found out myweightinwords' real name. I have always wanted to do that.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        And now you know!

        Never meant to keep it secret.

        February 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  6. ISHAYA LUKA

    The U.S believed in her power too much, neglecting CHRIST that is why she can not read the 'hand writing on the wall.' as you reject christ, be sorry for yourselves when you realised that its too late to cry when the head is off!

    February 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Your head is alive for about 15seconds after it is removed so you do have time to shed a tear... more pascals wager bs

      February 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  7. janelle

    I'm Christian, went to a public college and did not turn away from my faith or my church. I think the reason a lot of young people are leaving is because society keeps telling us behavior that our churches discourage is actually okay. Society tells us it's okay to live an anything goes lifestyle. It's okay to party, party, party and not have any responsibility. It's okay to have several children by several partners and not have to support any of them. Our churches encourage personal resposibility, society discourages it. The numbers I'd like to see is how many of these young Christians are coming back into the church after they've grown tired of a meaningless lifestyle.

    February 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Party, Party, Party... Jesus became famous by getting more booze to a party.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Bob

      So did you really take the personal responsibility that the Christian bible demands of you, and bloodily sacrifice a poor animal recently?

      Yes, the bible really demands that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  8. Dey terk errr jerrrrbbbbbssss

    Dey terk err jerrbbbbbsss!

    February 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  9. ISHAYA LUKA

    The problem of christianity in the U.S started when the church was separated from the state. that is total removal of christ from every affair

    February 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • jimtanker

      While that may be a problem for xtianity it certainly isnt a problem for Americans. That is just one of the many things that made America great.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      The US has and will hopefully always have separation of church and state. If you have a problem with that I hear Iran is nice this time of year.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Army MP

      I just want to pose a question to you about your response; When did this split of church and state you're talking about happen? As I understand it's always been that way.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • J.W

      Actually I see that the other way around. The church should never have been combined with the state. When the church and the state became intertwined the church became more concerned about political power rather than spiritual guidance.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Don’t try to be argumentative Mud Puppy. You know very well where the term came from. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean that people can’t use it as a colloquialism for what is explained in the 1st Amendment.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Army MP

      @jimtanker
      Hmm, so you respond to comments instantly with derogatory remarks... Anyway, the statement implies that this country was in trouble/ doomed from the begining. I was merely trying to clarify.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  10. Nii Croffie

    There are other churches than Southern Baptist with a warmer feel. Saddleback is Southern Baptist too. I know religious n pious Christians are hard to take but it drove me to become a spiritual christian rather than non-religious. I like the author I'm most grateful for them showing me unhappiness.

    February 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  11. JB

    Actually, college was a big reason I left church. But it wasn't the teaching of some "liberal elite" professor. I went to a Southern Baptist-affiliated school and after 4 years surrounded by the most close-minded, hateful people you can imagine, I ran screaming from the church and haven't looked back.

    February 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Pious n religious Christians fail to notice they r weak Christians till it is too late. Reading the Bible, doing quiet time, Memorising verses, buying souv.enirs and paying ti.thes are good. They are religious works(good works of S Paul). Chari.table love makes u spiritual and gains u eternal life.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      News flash! The church flourished in AD0s ROMAN EMPIRE with a hostile religion n out of favour with de authority. It won out cos de early church leaders were focussed on spirituality rather than piety or religiousity of their flocks.
      "see how de Xtians love each other"
      "Among de Jews none r poor"

      February 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  12. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    Blame anything that brings together different ideas in a single place for the loss of faith in an exclusive idea (be it a college, a major coastal city, or ancient Greece). Why do you think isolated rural areas typically have the strongest theists.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  13. zosk

    College has nothing to do with all that BS that Santorum is talking about, he's just trying to abeal to the ingnorant Republicans with anything he can pull out of bag of tricks. This dude's mentality is shameful for biblical times let alone at this day and age.
    I'd love to hear what his answer would be when one of his kids say "which college sould I go to dad?"...

    February 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  14. Robert Brown

    One drop of dirty water added to a bucket of clean water will make the whole bucket dirty. A whole bucket of clean water mixed with a drop of dirty water will not make the one drop clean. Instead the whole bucket is dirty again.

    Young Christians who are suddenly surrounded by non believers for the first time in their lives have to be very strong to survive the experience without having to repent later. Those who are grounded, even if they get away from God’s will while in college, see the light and come back to their faith like the prodigal son later in life.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      ie those who are brainwashed to the point their mind is completely closed.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Ann Ecdotal

      I came out of a strict Catholic school and went to UCLA. I definitely stayed grounded in my faith - I blush and cringe now when I remember that I even wrote a term paper on a papal encyclical - at UCLA, oy!

      It took many years (like 20 of them) after college, with much reading, listening, discussing, etc. to finally become a non-believer.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • J.W

      I guess that is a difference of philosophy from me. I would drink water with a drop of dirty water in it.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • SeilnoigileR

      That just means the brainwashing really took hold while they were young. It's incredibly difficult to go against teachings that say that 'you'll go to h3ll if you believe differently' and perhaps, even harder, to go against one's parents/relatives/friends.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • SeilnoigileR

      Oh – the 'dirty vs. clean' water metaphor just further illustrates that christians believe strongly that it's them versus everyone else and that they are better (clean) than everyone else. Everyone wants to belong to a group and to believe that theirs is special/different/better than all other groups. Religion provides the perfect medium for that mindset.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      The atheists on this blog sing about closed minds, ignorance, bigotry, etc. Shudn't some people be looking closer home. Anyway the import of the story is that a spiritual christian will keep his faith but a religious and even a pious one is likely to lose his faith so the pastors shud focus on this

      February 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • momoya

      Actually, people treat tainted water with a few drops of bleach all the time. It's standard practice in some areas.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      No, I was not saying that because I am a Christian that I am "clean" or somehow better than you or anyone else. There is none good except God and as Paul said my righteousness is as filthy rags. I was just saying that if you are exposed to the world some of it may and probably will rub off on you.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      KJV Matthew 13:

      “…..3And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
      4And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
      5Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
      6And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
      7And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
      8But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. …..”, and
      …. “18Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
      19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
      20But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
      21Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
      22He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
      23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • mandarax

      Oh, good. The scripture-quoting has begun...

      February 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bob

      Yeah, it takes some pretty strong disinfectants to clear away the mind virus known as religion, but it can happen. Reason is really all it takes.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • SeilnoigileR

      Let's ask these questions then.

      If nothing existed before God, and God is 100% good, and everything sprang from God, then what is the source of evil? The only choice would be God, but that invalidates the fact that he's apparently 100% good.

      Did God change the laws of physics after the 'flood' just so Noah could have a sign? In other words, were there no rainbows before this time at all?

      If our species started with only Adam and Eve, then how did we get diversity within our species? Almost any biologist/geneticist would tell you that you can't have a viable population without more genetic diversity.

      These are just a FEW of the questions that Jesus is NOT the answer to. It always cracks me up to see the bumper stickers with 'Jesus is the Answer'. I don't think any teacher would appreciate it if they asked what 2+2= and a student said, 'Jesus!'.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  15. Batman

    My take, a lot of younger people are actually reading the bible and realizing people are gullible. So they stop going to chruch.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  16. Dr.K.

    Religious leaders also shoot themselves in the foot by requiring their flocks to ignore or dismiss clear scientific realities. I think many would take Christianity more seriously if the majority who are rational would openly acknowledge the silliness of the loud-mouthed minority who insist that reality must be rejected in favor of children's stories.

    I know that not all (not even most?) religious people take Noah's Ark, and Adam and Eve, 6-day creation, etc. literally, but by passively supporting those that do, they allow absurdities to be associated with their own beliefs. Thinking people have no choice but to walk away.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Adam and Eve do not even have to be history for the story to reflect on human nature. If Noah's Ark can drive u away then u don't need to be a Christian. Also Christians religious leaders have never been in unquestioned control of their churches, they never will be. Materialism is the real cause.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Bob

      And how will you decide which parts of that idiotic book of fables known as the bible to take literally, and which not to? Seems your god has a rather weak marcomm department if he needs a specious, self-contradictory book like that to get his (very questionable) storyline out.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Why won't God heal amputees is directly answered in the Book of Fables first book. The Book of Beginnings in the story of Adam and Eve. Have u checked it out! When u do just give me a shout out here!

      February 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • jimtanker

      So Nii,

      He's either incapable or he is an evil monster. Those are your choices. Take your pick. I dont care how you rationalize it away, that is all there is.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Most atheists actually think atheism is not studied as a religion but it is. In theological colleges in fact. Why? Just that to develop faith you must learn to doubt. Then you go on to investigate. The positive results give you faith. Doubt is the first part so don't stop in first grade.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Bob

      Nii, I already checked out your bible. It's bullcr@p, plain and simple, with a few historical markers thrown in so that some morons latch onto them. Nothing more, really, and most atheists know more about the bible than Christians do.

      Care to try again? But avoid referencing the buybull next time; it stinks.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  17. MissusPowell

    "A Myth is story that never happened, that is happening all the time." Joseph Campbell "We are Spiritual Beings having a Human Experience." Deepak Chopra "...Live the questions now and someday, maybe, you'll live along into the answers..."
    Marie Rilke I believe religions can be a pathway to and a barrier to God, Our Creator, A Power Greater than Ourselves. Religions are man-made. Spirit is within ourselves. Science cannot prove it and Science cannot disprove it. It is an individual inner journey. Noone can beat it into us and Noone can beat it out of us, though many will try and we may even try to do it on ourselves. It is wise to seek and question and go within. Blame, Anger, Fear, Controling, Hate, etc. are of Human Origin. Spirit, God Within or Soul, is Bigger, if you will, than our humaness. I grew up in THE SHOW ME STATE, lol. Over the years I have learned SHOW ME is not always tangible. It isn't always WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET .
    And the saying IT IS WHAT IT IS seems an empty trip for a seeker–sort of like, WHAT DOES IT MATTER ANYWAY, because I believe Life Matters and for me Seeking is a Wonderful Trip. It isn't an easy trip. Nature and the Seasons remind me that just as Spring fights its way in, pushing Winter out there is clashing going on, STORMY TIMES. So do we have those times within and without. Not always easy. AND wonder-filled, too.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • mandarax

      Wow, that's a healthy dose of wishy-washy. Deepak Chopra would be proud.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • netofunk

      Do you say all that balderdash everyday to help reinforce it? I agree with the previous comment – Deepak would be proud. Simply making the declarations of faith you make do not make them anymore likely to be factual.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  18. SeilnoigileR

    I bet Santorum, along with most rabid Christians, long for the day when only the clergy and rich could read. It was so much easier to control the masses when they couldn't question what they were told. I think that's why he's anti-education, since a questioning mind is anathema to the dogma they've fed their children all their lives.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    Early adulthood is a time when thinking people re-evaluate their early indoctrination.
    Exposure to a wide array of opinions, facts, and sundry data helps in this questioning.
    This kind of personal development should be encouraged! If the ethos with which one was raised have merit, they will remain the principles by which one lives.
    Denying people access to information and dissident/different views will not stop them from doubting, it'll just pair that doubt with confusion, frustration and eventual anger.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Well said.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  20. DamianKnight

    I've often wondered at exactly what Russ is getting at.

    If atheists do not believe in some higher power, where do they get their morals from? Where do they derive from?

    The only answer I can think of is: Society. And as we've seen, societal norms change. Look at before the 1960s for example. Blacks were considered inferior to whites. But now, society says, that's a wrong atti.tude to have (which I agree with.) So basing one's morals on societal norms, would at best, be guidelines. There's no definitive right or wrong. Just what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in that current societal climate. And even more intriguing, different societies have different societal norms, which makes it even more subjective.

    I'd love an answer to that question. Just note, it's not a challenge, just a question.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Eric G

      Society is the answer. I think that is why we are seeing religions evolve from the more structured RCC type to a more "coffee bar in the lobby" type.

      All religious beliefs that have died out throughout history have done so when they lost their social relevance. In the past, there was always a new belief system in the wings to take over. Now, as the worlds current religions and belief systems continue to become irrelevant, no replacement is necessary.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Dr. B

      It doesn't take religious teaching to know right from wrong, and using examples of prejudice and so forth to support the opposite view is disingenuous at best, because interpretation of religious doctrine depends on societal norms as much as anything else. To take your example of racism–Christianity was used to justify it for decades. And yet, we now say it's wrong and that to be a real Christian you should not be racist and you should love everyone. Somehow, loving everyone was seen back then to mean "love only people who look like yourself" until social norms began to change. Suddenly, "everyone" means something else now. Same scripture, different interpretation based on social norms.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      You want absolutes. There aren't any.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • TR6

      Religious morals are also relitive. 200 years ago most christians considered blacks to be inferior and approved of slavery

      February 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.